2016 has already brought us a set of headphones designed to match their sound to your ears, and now plugin maven Waves has devised a system that it says can produce '3D audio' from your existing studio headphones.
Using technology that was originally put in a plugin earlier this year (opens in new tab), Waves Nx comprises a desktop or mobile app and a head tracker, which attaches to your headphones and monitors head movement. The idea is that the system recreates the experience of listening to sound in the real world, as opposed to just getting audio piped individually to each ear (as is usually the case when you're wearing cans).
Head movement is said to be important because, when you move your head, your position in relation to your environment also changes. Of course, your headphones move with your head, so your position relative to the sound you're hearing doesn't usually change, but Waves Nx's head tracker can respond to your movements and send info (via Bluetooth) back to the app so it can react accordingly. Head movement can also be tracked using your laptop camera.
In short, then, Waves Nx is designed to recreate on headphones the audio cues you get in the real world - "the same left-right crosstalk, the same ambient reflections, the same responsiveness to your own physical movements." The result, we're told, is true 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound.
Waves Nx is currently being peddled on Kickstarter and is well on the way to achieving its funding goal. The cheapest remaining pledge that will get you the tracker and application is $69, while the predicted retail price is $99.